BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein testified Wednesday for the first time at his trial, insisting he was Iraq's leader and praising the insurgency, prompting the chief judge to close the courtroom to the public because he said Saddam was making political speeches.
"What pains me most is what I heard recently about something that aims to harm our people," Saddam said. "My conscience tells me that the great people of Iraq have nothing to do with these acts."
Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman interrupted Saddam. "You are being tried in a criminal case. Stop your political speech," Abdel-Rahman said angrily.
"I am the head of state," Saddam replied.
"You used to be a head of state. You are a defendant now," Abdel-Rahman barked at Saddam.
"Had it not been for politics I wouldn't be here," Saddam replied.
(TOTAL BURN BACK!)
"What happened in the last days is bad," he said, referring to the Feb. 22 bombing of the Askariya shrine in the city of Samarra. "You will live in darkness and rivers of blood for no reason." He praised the insurgency, saying, "In my eyes, you are the resistance to the American invasion."
Abdel-Rahman replied, "You are being tried in a criminal case for killing innocent people, not because of your conflict with America."
Saddam responded, "What about the innocent people who are dying in Baghdad? I am talking to the Iraqi people."
During his testimony, Saddam called the proceedings a "comedy."
Well, if that's not a cue, I don't know what is...
GEORGE W. BUSH: Hey, fellas, you been watching this Saddam trial?
DICK CHENEY: I've got a country to run, George. I don't have time to watch Court TV.
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: What were you doing watching that, sir? It doesn't really seem like your thing.
GWB: Aw, the dish went out on Air Force One. All I could get was al-Jazeera and the Golf Channel.
DC: So why...
GWB: They were showing a Nancy Lopez retrospective. Anyway, I caught a bit of it before we touched down, and I gotta say, I wonder if he's makin' us look bad up there.
DC: I wouldn't worry about it, George. That's not even being broadcast in the US. No one's watching it but a bunch of Europeans.
GWB: Really? What are we showing instead? That Moose-owie trial? The 20th hijacker fella?
PW: Actually, we're now going with Ramzi bin al-Shibh as the 20th hijacker now.
DC: I thought it was Mohammed al-Q'atani.
PW: Him too. We like to keep a few in reserve for when the Zogby polls come out.
GWB: Well, how many damn 20th hijackers are there?
DC: The same number as there are al-Q'aeda second-in-commands. Is this going somewhere, George? It's already almost 3PM, and I still need to stop at the gun shop and the liquor store.
GWB: Well, I was just wondering, what exactly are we trying Saddam for, anyway?
PW: We're not trying him. The Iraqi people are trying him.
GWB: But it's really us, right?
GWB: Anyway, the prosecutor guy says it's for killing innocent people, but he's saying it's for politics.
PW: Oh, that's not true, sir. This war was always about ousting that monster Saddam.
DC: And freedom for the Iraqi people.
PW: And spreading democracy in the middle east.
DC: And going after terrorist groups like al-Q'aeda.
PW: And weapons of mass destruction.
DC: And furthering the American agenda into a new century.
PW: And, uh...boy, I feel like I'm forgetting one.
DC: Lowering taxes?
PW: No, I don't think that's it. Do you have the wallet card?
GWB: Well, look, never mind all that. I thought he was on trial for trying to kill my dad.
DC: Uh...no, George. That's...that's not why.
GWB: Well, they're gonna find him guilty in this one, right?
DC: If they want their water to stay on, you bet they are.
GWB: Can we try him for wanting to kill my dad after that?
DC: They can only hang him once, George.
GWB: Are you sure? Can we check on that? Because in Texas...